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Internal report exposes cocaine abuse, lax testing, inside SEAL Team 10

The Little Creek, Virginia-based command conducted urinalysis testing on April 9 and April 16, 2018, nabbing six SEALs for allegedly abusing cocaine and other banned substances.

Several SEALs told investigators they previously beat the testing program by swapping out tainted urine for clean samples — but they weren’t screened very often anyway.

“I never once got piss-tested on deployment or on the road, where I was using most often,” one busted SEAL said in a statement.

“When I was in Buenaventura, Colombia, I was using cocaine. I think I was the only one of the four SEAL TEAM TEN guys using cocaine there. It was everywhere.”

The names and other details involving the SEALs are redacted in the copy of the investigation obtained by Navy Times following a Freedom of Information Act request.

Citing regulations designed to protect sailors from “an unwarranted invasion of … personal privacy,” Naval Special Warfare Command spokeswoman Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence declined to name the SEALs netted during the probe or specify the punitive actions taken against them.

But she confirmed that no SEALs went to court-martial in the wake of the urinalysis screening and four were administratively separated from the sea service.

A fifth SEAL “ingested cocaine” at his home on April 15, 2018, and killed himself the following month, the lead investigator wrote.

The sixth SEAL, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Daniel Boggs, confirmed to Navy Times that he tested positive and lost his trident.

But records provided by Boggs show an administrative board later cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Boggs, 34, said he was given the option of remaining in the Navy with a different rating, but he plans on exiting the service.

He insists that he never intentionally used cocaine and suspects he unwittingly drank from another SEAL’s cocktail that was laced with the drug.

At least one SEAL told investigators he would splice his drinks with cocaine while at a popular watering hole.

Boggs echoes other SEALs by saying no one in the team took the urinalysis screening system seriously and that he knew other operators were using drugs. But because he avoided illegal substances, he said he “never had to worry about it.”

In the wake of the probe, SEAL Team 10′s superiors at Naval Special Warfare Group 2 updated the urinalysis program, retrained those who administer the tests and hiked the frequency of the screenings, spokeswoman Lawrence said.

“We now test our operators and combat support personnel while in garrison, TDY for training and when deployed,” she said.

Lawrence also indicated that the command investigation shouldn’t be read as an indictment of the entire special warfare community.

“I will not speculate as to the reasons why these service members made the poor decisions that they did, but I will say that the actions of a few are not reflective of the SEAL code or culture,” she said.

“We have tightened our processes. We are focused on performance and we are proud of our progress.”

In the report, the lead investigator wrote that the command found no evidence that drug use by any of the SEALs led to teammates getting hurt.

But one sailor “during Tactical Ground Movement training may have unnecessarily exposed his teammates to greater training risk.”

Despite what often are hectic training and deployment cycles, the investigator who drafted the command report insisted that SEALs should never be exempted from urinalysis screening.

“On deployment, no location should be treated as too remote for testing,” the officer recommended. “No distance or cost should, by its inconvenience, implicitly sanction unlawful drug use or insulate service members from rigid adherence to Navy standards.”

But that was far from the case in mid-2018, according to the investigation. Back then, the testing program “suffered from serious deficiencies, which did not maintain accountability for substance abuse and adversely affected readiness,” the report states.

“Failure to conduct the Urinalysis Program in strict compliance with Navy standards, regulations, and guidance proved corrosive to good order and discipline by allowing drug use to continue undeterred and undetected.”

One SEAL said the system was “easy to cheat” and so there “was no real reason not to use any substance.”

“Most of the time no one had to watch urine leave the hole,” a SEAL told investigators. “It was usually a buddy that would just follow you in and let you piss.”

Because empty urine bottles were left “everywhere,” he’d also sneak one filled with clean urine into the bathroom to swap out the pee.

One SEAL said that others stashed clean urine in their gear cages to use if the command popped a surprise test.

Another described a testing system “so relaxed that once an individual saw his name on the urinalysis list, he commonly asked others to urinate for him into a spare bottle, and then set aside the urine in that bottle for later submission as a sample.”

One several occasions, another SEAL “simply dunked the specimen bottle into the urinal water and gave that fluid as a urine sample,” the report stated.

“The specimen he provided on 9 April 2018 was entirely composed of urinal water,” it added.

Another SEAL “was always worried he would ‘piss hot’ after a ‘big weekend,’ but he made no effort to protect against it,” the probe indicated.

One SEAL told investigators that he was never forced to buy his cocaine or other drugs because he received them for free “when he is at local bars.”

“Random people would offer me cocaine and I would go with them to use drugs,” he added.

One SEAL confessed he used cocaine “while cleaning his gear at his house,” according to the investigation.

Another SEAL who admitted snorting coke in Colombia also recalled years of drug abuse in the United States.

He told investigators that “he ‘partied’ with five service members from (SEAL Team 10)” during a stint at sniper school in September 2017 and also abused drugs during training for armorers in Indiana.

Back home in Virginia Beach, he’d mix cocaine into an “orange crush” drink while hanging out at The Shack, a local bar popular with SEALs, according to the report.

He described buying two of the cocktails to bring to the tavern’s restroom. Once at a stall, he’d dump cocaine into one of the drinks before returning to the bar.

“My normal process was to quickly consume the drink with the cocaine in it, then sip from the other drink so I didn’t have to carry two drinks around,” the SEAL admitted.

“If there was any ice or anything left in the cup from the Orange Crush with the cocaine, I poured the remainder into the other untouched Orange Crush and sipped from that one until the next round.”

The SEAL “stated that he never touched cocaine with his fingers because of its sticky residue” and instead “always used something to scoop the cocaine into his beverages as he stood at the urinal, such as a credit card, or he poured it directly into his ‘Orange Crush’ from the small plastic bag.”

The report indicated that the cocaine “made him very aware of his actions and very interested in conversation with members of the group” and the way he ingested the drug “at the Shack seemed well-rehearsed and calculated.”

A photo of the Virginia Beach bar's restroom shows where a Navy SEAL allegedly poured cocaine into his cocktail. (Navy)

A photo of the Virginia Beach bar’s restroom shows where a Navy SEAL allegedly poured cocaine into his cocktail. (Navy)

The SEAL’s disciplinary review board records are included in the investigation.

The team’s command master chief convened the DRB in May 2018, after the SEAL used cocaine shortly before both urinalysis sweeps, according to the records.

“Member took full responsibility for his actions and openly admits to using cocaine and (ecstasy) numerous times a week for the last three years,” the documents indicate.

He also confessed to using cocaine throughout pre-deployment training, except for a land warfare segment at Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center in rural western Arkansas.

“Apparently, cocaine is hard to find in (Arkansas),” the board’s notes state.

The board recommended he receive non-judicial punishment consisting of reduction in rank and forfeiture of half his pay for two months.

The SEAL’s wife left him and took their three kids across the country in February 2018 due to his “continued drug use” but he also entered substance abuse treatment to get help, according to the DRB records.

Navy SEAL Boss Orders Discipline Crackdown After Embarrassing Scandals

Navy Rear Adm. Collin P. Green addresses a crowd March 3, 2017, at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida. He is now the head of Naval Special Warfare. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite)
Navy Rear Adm. Collin P. Green addresses a crowd March 3, 2017, at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida. He is now the head of Naval Special Warfare. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite)

Discipline trackers, intrusive leadership and routine inspections: Those are just some of the changes coming to the Naval Special Warfare community after a host of scandals led to an ethics review and a call to restore good order.

Rear Adm. Collin Green sent a four-page memo to his senior leaders this week, ordering a host of changes within the Navy SEAL community, which has been rocked by sexual assault allegations, high-profile legal battles and drug use in the ranks.

The force, Green wrote in a memo first posted by CNN, has drifted from its core values of honor, courage and commitment “due to a lack of action at all levels of Leadership.” The problems have broken down the trust SEALs have earned from their military and civilian leaders and the American people, Green said.

“All Hands will address this issue with urgent, effective and active leadership,” he said. “This drift ends now.”

Officials at Naval Special Warfare Command could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Green’s memo was issued less than three weeks after he told the force they had a problem, calling on all personnel to clean up their behavior. A platoon had just been booted from Iraq over allegations of sexual misconduct and drinking in the war zone. There were also reports of cocaine use in one SEAL team and allegations that a member of another tricked a woman into sending nude photos.

There have also been high-profile legal cases, including that of Chief Special Warfare Operators Adam Matthews and Anthony DeDolph in connection to the death of an Army staff sergeant, and Special Warfare Operator Eddie Gallagher was recently found guilty of wrongfully posing for a photo with a human casualty.

Green is cracking down on bad behavior, calling for a return to routine inspections including strict enforcement of all Navy grooming and uniform standards.

The use and distribution of all unofficial unit insignia, including logos and patches, is banned. Only those with special approval under formal Navy regulations will be allowed to stray from the standard-issue uniform items.

Green also wants to be personally informed when anyone above the rank of E-6 is accused of misbehavior. It’s possible those sailors could be reprimanded directly by the commander, raising questions about whether those cases had been mismanaged in the past.

“I reserve the right to withhold all Non-Judicial Punishment authority for those reports at my level as I deem appropriate,” Green wrote.

Within the next 30 days, Green also wants a force-wide accountability tracker that will ensure transparency of all disciplinary problems across the command. And leaders must be “intrusive,” he said, and assign only the right people to run drug tests and lead suicide prevention and sexual assault prevention and response programs.

SEALs told investigators last year they were able to skirt drug tests easily, Navy Times reported this summer, with operators referring to them as a “joke.” And at least one member of the team booted from Iraq last month was accused of sexual assault.

The Navy SEALs will retain only their best, Green said, keeping quality over quantity. He says he wants only the “right leaders that demonstrate adherence to the highest standards.”

More SEALs will be added to the ranks only after they ensure they have groomed the right number of leaders who have adequate training, certifications, and the “highest standards of character and competence,” Green said.

There will be peer reviews, legal training, lessons on naval special warfare heritage and a leadership development program.

The SEALs’ mission of taking on terrorists, rogue nations and peer adversaries is too important to have anyone compromising their values or standards, the memo states. Everyone in the command must “right the ship and remain the Force our Nation Expects,” Green said.

“We own the problem and the solution,” he said.

Lost submarine from World War I found after 103-year search

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One of World War I’s biggest mysteries has finally been solved after a 103-year search.

On Sep. 14, 1914, Australia’s first submarine, the HMAS AE1, disappeared off the coast of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. 

It followed a successful mission to help capture what was then known as German New Guinea, and was the first loss for what was a young Royal Australian Navy. 

35 crew members went missing without a trace.

The AE1.

The AE1.

Image: Department of Defence

That’s until an expedition this week, the 13th search for the submarine, which located the AE1 on Wednesday off the coast of the Duke of York Island group, in east Papua New Guinea.  Read more…

More about Australia, Navy, World War I, Submarine, and Culture

US F/A-18E Shoots Down Syrian Su-22 in Air-to-Air Kill

Cmdr. Patrick McKenna pilots an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Pacific Ocean on April 18, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo/Aaron B. Hicks)
Cmdr. Patrick McKenna pilots an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Pacific Ocean on April 18, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo/Aaron B. Hicks)
 

A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 on Sunday after the Soviet-era fighter-bomber dropped munitions near U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighters, U.S. Central Command officials confirmed.

The strike was believed to be the U.S. military’s first air-to-air kill involving manned aircraft in nearly two decades. The last known such instance was when a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon shot down a Serbian MiG-29 in 1999 during the Kosovo campaign.

“A Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet,” the command said in a release.

The attack comes after pro-Syrian forces attacked SDF fighters in Ja’Din, wounding a number of SDF fighters, officials said. The town is south of Tabqah and a known area where U.S. works with Russia to deconflict the airspace.

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“Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force and stopped the initial pro-regime advance toward the SDF-controlled town,” the release said.

Following the advance on the SDF, the coalition alerted Russian counterparts to de-escalate the situation. However the forces — backed by President Bashar al-Assad — did not appear to back down, with the Su-22 entering the area, CentCom said.

“The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat,” the command said.

While Central Command said its mission is to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, the strike against the pro-Syrian regime forces marks the fourth strike in recent weeks by the coalition.

Drone Shootdown

Most recently, a U.S. F-15E on June 8 shot down an unidentified drone deemed hostile toward coalition forces in At Tanf.

The drone, similar in size to a U.S. MQ-1 Predator, was suspected to be “pro-regime” and was struck down after it was observed dropping a munition near coalition personnel training partner forces in the fight against the Islamic State, according to Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon.

The drone strike marked the first time that forces supporting the Syrian government have attacked inside a so-called “deconfliction” zone near At Tanf, close to the Jordanian border, Dillon said.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said the pro-Syrian forces are backed by Iran, and have been knowingly operating “inside an established and agreed-upon deconfliction zone.” They are believed to be a threat to coalition forces in the region, he has said.

The deconfliction zone is an area in which U.S. and Russian forces have agreed not to operate. The zone previously applied to airspace but now includes ground territory, a defense official told Military.com last month.

First Kill

The last air-to-air kill for the F/A-18 was during the Gulf War when two F/A-18s shot down two Iraqi MiG-21s during a brief dogfight. The kill over Syria, however, is believed to be the first air-to-air kill for the E model.

The F/A-18s are flying the most combat missions in Operation Inherent Resolve, the Pentagon’s name for operations against the Islamic State, according to recent statistics provided to Military.com.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Su-22 — a variant of the Sukhoi 17 and Su-20 and heavily used throughout the Arab-Israeli conflicts and the 1982 Lebanon War — have been involved in the Assad’s Syrian war since roughly mid-2012.

The Su-22s were believed to be the aircraft behind the nerve agent attack in April against the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northwestern Syria’s Idlib governorate.

Days later, President Donald Trump ordered two Navy destroyers to launch more than 50 Tomahawk missiles on Al Shayrat base north of Damascus, where the SU-22s launched from.

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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Navy Syria Russia Headlines Oriana Pawlyk

What we know about Navy destroyer’s deadly collision with a container ship in Japan

By JULIA JACOBO  Jun 19, 2017, 1:13 PM ET

The Japanese coast guard is now investigating the deadly collision between the Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off the coast of Japan Saturday that killed seven U.S. sailors and injured several more.

Here’s what we know:

The collision happened early Saturday

The USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged container ship off the coast of Yokosuka, Japan, before 2:20 a.m. Saturday local time, according to the U.S. Navy.

The Navy destroyer was operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, when it collided with the container ship. Most of the 300 crew members on board would have been asleep at the time, The Associated Press reported.

Weather conditions were clear at the time of the collision, the AP reported. The area is often busy with sea traffic, with as many as 400 ships passing through it every day, according to Japan’s coast guard.

The container ship made a sudden turn shortly before the collision

The route of the container ship ACX Crystal, provided by vessel-tracking service MarineTraffic, shows that the ship made a sudden turn around 1:30 a.m., as if possible trying to avoid something, before continuing eastward.

PHOTO: A screenshot provided by vessel-tracking service MarineTraffic shows the route of the container ship ACX Crystal that collided with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters southwest of Tokyo, June 16, 2017, killing seven U.S. sailors. MarineTraffic via AP
A screenshot provided by vessel-tracking service MarineTraffic shows the route of the container ship ACX Crystal that collided with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters southwest of Tokyo, June 16, 2017, killing seven U.S. sailors. more +

The ACX Crystal then made a U-turn and returned around 2:20 a.m. to the area near the collision.

It took nearly an hour for the collision to be reported

An official for Japan’s coast guard said it is investigating why it took nearly an hour for the collision to be reported, the AP reported.

The coast guard originally said the collision occurred at 2:20 a.m. because when the container ship reported the incident it at 2:25 a.m., it said the collision had just happened. The coast guard later changed the collision time to 1:30 a.m. after interviewing crewmembers aboard the container ship.

Coast guard officials are trying to get a hold of a device with communication records to further examine the details of the crash, which is also being investigated by Japan’s Transport Safety Board.

The U.S. Navy said it is sticking with the 2:20 a.m. timing for the crash that had been reported by the USS Fitzgerald, according to the AP.

A spokeswoman for the NYK Line, the ship’s operator, agreed with the earlier timing, but she could not provide details about what the ship was doing for the 50 minutes between the time of the collision and when it was reported.

7 sailors were killed

Initially after the collision, five sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald were reported injured and seven sailors were reported missing. The remains of the missing sailors were later found in the berthing compartments, which were flooded.

The deceased sailors were identified as: Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Virginia; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Connecticut; Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, California; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Maryland; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio.

PHOTO: The seven U.S. sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan, June 17, 2017.U.S. Navy via AP
The seven U.S. sailors who died in a collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship off Japan, June 17, 2017.

The victims may have been killed by the impact of the collision or drowned in the flooding, Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newman said, according to the AP.

Four sailors and the ship’s commanding officer were medically evacuated by a Japanese coast guard helicopter, Cmdr. Richard Gourley of the U.S. Naval Forces Japan said. The 7th fleet later confirmed that the sailors were in stable condition and were being treated for lacerations and bruises at the Naval Hospital Yokosuka.

The captain of the Fitzgerald, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, suffered a head injury in the collision.

Raleigh, North Carolina, resident Mia Sykes told the AP that her son, Brayden Harden, 19, was knocked out of his bunk by the impact of the crash, and that water immediately began filling the berth.

Harden tried to save his shipmates by diving back down until the flooded berth began running out of air pockets, Sykes said.

Sykes said her son told her that four men in his berth died, including those sleeping in bunks below and above him. Three men in the berth above his died as well, Sykes said her son told her.

The warship sustained ‘extensive’ damage

The USS Fitzgerald sustained damage on its starboard side and experienced flooded in some spaces as a result of the collision, according to the Navy.

At a news conference Sunday, Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin of the 7th Fleet described the damage as “extensive.” One side of the destroyer suffered a big puncture and gash below the waterline, and three compartments were severely damaged, Aucoin said.

“The water flow is tremendous, and so there wasn’t a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea…,” he said. “They had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface. It was traumatic.”

PHOTO: The damaged side of USS Fitzgerald at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo, June 18, 2017. Eugene Hoshiko/AP
The damaged side of USS Fitzgerald at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo, June 18, 2017.

While the ship will require “significant repair,” it is “salvageable,” Aucoin said, adding that he hopes the repairs take less than a year.

The container ship’s left bow was dented and scraped in the collision as well.

PHOTO: The container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula, is berthed at the Oi Container Terminal in Tokyo, June 17, 2017.Hitoshi Takano/Kyodo News via AP
The container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula, is berthed at the Oi Container Terminal in Tokyo, June 17, 2017.more +
PHOTO: The container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula on June 17, 2017, is berthed at the Yokohama port near Tokyo, June 19, 2017.
Hiroshi Kashimura/Kyodo News via AP
The container ship ACX Crystal with its left bow dented and scraped after colliding with the USS Fitzgerald in the waters off the Izu Peninsula on June 17, 2017, is berthed at the Yokohama port near Tokyo, June 19, 2017. more +

The damage to the destroyer may suggest that the container ship slammed into it at a high speed, according to The AP.

What we still don’t know

It is unclear whether there were any warning signs leading up to the collision, and authorities have not speculated on the cause of the crash.

Although weather conditions were clear at the time of the collision, the fast currents and high-traffic area could make it tricky to navigate.

It is also unclear whether the sudden turn taken by the shipping container contributed to the collision.

ABC News’ Luis Martinez and Elizabeth McLaughlin contributed to this story, which was supplemented with reporting by The Associated Press.

Russian warning after US downs Syrian jet

An F/A-18E Super Hornet (similar to the one pictured) shot down the Syrian plane© Getty Images An F/A-18E Super Hornet (similar to the one pictured) shot down the Syrian plane Russia has warned the US-led coalition fighting in Syria that it will view its aircraft as targets, after a Syrian military plane was shot down.

The coalition said it had shot down the Syrian SU-22 after it bombed US-backed rebels in Raqqa province on Sunday.

Russia, Syria’s main ally, said it was also halting communication with the US aimed at preventing air incidents.

Syria condemned America’s “flagrant attack”, saying it would have “dangerous repercussions”.

“Any aircraft, including planes and drones belonging to the international coalition operating west of the Euphrates river, will be tracked by Russian anti-aircraft forces in the sky and on the ground and treated as targets,” the Russian defence ministry said.

It denied the US had used a communications channel before the SU-22 fighter bomber was downed.

The memorandum of co-operation with the coalition aimed at preventing air incidents and guaranteeing flight safety was ending as of Monday, the defence ministry added.

What does this signify? Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent

The downing of a Syrian warplane by a US jet threatens to draw Washington further into the Syrian fighting.

The US has already attacked pro-government forces on the ground after they entered an exclusion zone designed to protect US personnel training and advising anti-government rebels near Syria’s border with Iraq.

Now Washington is extending this protection to forces that it backs who are engaged in the offensive against Raqqa. These local, tactical steps inevitably could have strategic implications creating a further source of friction between Washington and Tehran.

Iran’s focus is increasingly on the border region between Syria and Iraq. The struggle for control of this crucial territory is becoming ever more dangerous.

Iran’s own missile strikes against what it says are IS targets underscores Tehran’s willingness to act in defence of its own interests in Syria.

The co-operation had been halted after the US launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria’s Shayrat airbase in April in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town in Idlib province.

But the US and Russia had agreed to resume communications last month.

The SU-22 fighter bomber was engaged by an F/A-18E Super Hornet after it had dropped bombs near the town of Tabqa in Raqqa province on Sunday afternoon, the Pentagon said.

It is believed to be the first air-to-air kill of a manned aircraft by a US military jet since the Kosovo campaign in 1999.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were operating in the Tabqa area.

The SDF have been fighting Islamic State militants as part of a drive to retake the city of Raqqa, the IS stronghold further to the east.

Map showing control of Iraq and Syria (31 May 2017)

© BBC Map showing control of Iraq and Syria (31 May 2017) A statement from the US-led coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve said pro-government militiamen had attacked SDF units, driving them from the town of Ja’Din.

The US-led coalition conducted what it said was a “show of force” – a reported buzzing of the pro-government troops by jets – to stop the attack and then called Russia to try to “de-escalate the situation and stop the firing”.

However, the SU-22 dropped bombs on SDF positions a few hours later, the coalition said, and “in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of coalition-partnered forces [the plane] was immediately shot down”.

Attempts to warn the plane away using an emergency radio frequency failed, the US Central Command said.

The coalition statement added: “The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-Isis [IS] operations will not be tolerated.”

The coalition, it added, did “not seek to fight the Syrian regime, Russian or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat”.

The Syrian army said its warplane had been on a mission against IS when it came under fire, according to state television.

It said the incident would have “dangerous repercussions” on efforts to fight terrorism.

An army statement said the pilot of the plane was missing.

Although this is the first time the coalition has shot down a Syrian jet, there have been an increasing number of incidents between the two sides:

In a separate incident on Sunday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they had launched several missiles from Iran into eastern Syria, targeting IS fighters.

The Guards said they had fired mid-range ground-to-ground missiles from western Iran targeting “the headquarters and meeting place and suicide car assembly line” of “IS terrorists” in Deir al-Zour province.

A “large number” of militants were killed and equipment and weapons were destroyed, the Guards said.

The missiles were apparently in response to an IS-claimed attack on the Iranian parliament earlier this month which killed more than a dozen people.

“The spilling of any pure blood will not go unanswered,” a Guards statement said.

Iran has been a key ally of President Assad, sending military advisers and thousands of “volunteer” troops.

Admiral, seven others charged with corruption in new ‘Fat Leonard’ indictment

Rear Adm. Bruce F. Loveless © Navy Rear Adm. Bruce F. Loveless The Justice Department unsealed a fresh indictment Tuesday charging eight current and former Navy officials — including an admiral — with corruption and other crimes in the “Fat Leonard” bribery case, escalating an epic scandal that has dogged the Navy for the past four years.

Among those charged were Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, a senior Navy intelligence officer based at the Pentagon, several Navy captains and a retired colonel from the Marine Corps. The charges cover a period of eight years, from 2006 through 2014.

The Navy personnel are accused of taking bribes in the form of lavish gifts, prostitutes and luxury hotel stays courtesy of Leonard Glenn Francis, a Singapore-based defense contractor who has already pleaded guilty to defrauding the Navy of tens of millions of dollars.

The indictment lists page after page of bribes allegedly consumed by the defendants — seven senior officers and one enlisted sailor — including $25,000 watches, $2,000 boxes of Cohiba cigars, $2,000 bottles of cognac and $600-per-night hotel rooms.

According to the charging documents, Francis also frequently sponsored wild sex parties for many officers on the USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the Navy’s 7th Fleet, and other warships.

During a port visit by the Blue Ridge to Manila in May 2008, for example, five of the Navy officers attended a “raging multi-day party, with a rotating carousel of prostitutes,” at the Shangri-La Hotel, according to the indictment. The group allegedly drank the hotel’s entire supply of Dom Perignon champagne and rang up expenses exceeding $50,000, which Francis covered in full.

On another port visit by the Blue Ridge to Manila in February 2007, Francis allegedly hosted another sex party for officers in the MacArthur Suite of the Manila hotel. During the party, “historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts,” according to the indictment.

In exchange, according to federal prosecutors, the officials provided Francis with classified or inside information that enabled his firm, Glenn Marine Defense Asia, to gouge the Navy out of tens of millions of dollars.

In addition to Loveless, others charged in the indictment are three retired captains: David Lausman, Donald Hornbeck and David Newland; an active-duty captain, James Dolan; a retired Marine colonel, Enrico de Guzman; an active-duty commander, Stephen F. Shedd; and Robert Gorsuch, a retired chief warrant officer. None could immediately be reached for comment.

All were charged with offenses stemming from deployments to Asia while they were assigned to the 7th Fleet, based in Japan.

The indictment brings the total number of people charged with crimes in the Fat Leonard investigation to 27. Prosecutors say the case is still unfolding and that more than 200 people have come under scrutiny.